‘Why are you staring at me like a mannequin?’ uncle Ade smiled boyishly, ‘come and receive your call jo.’
The spark in the eyes of the middle-aged man as I collected the phone from him fueled my curiousity.
‘Hello, Good afternoon, this is Dabira,’ I began quietly.
‘Good afternoon, Dabira…’a baritone voice responded.
‘Is that Chief Mbadiwe?’
‘Oh yes,’ the caller replied, ‘I’m glad you recognized my voice despite calling with a different number. So how are you, my angel?’
Angel! I blushed.
‘Hello, Dabbie, are you still there?’
‘Oh, yes…yes sir…’ I muttered.
Chief Mbadiwe spent the next few minutes talking about his growing interest in me. Despite my diplomacy over the phone, I noticed an amusement on uncle Ade’s crumpled face, obviously waiting to get a sufficient scoop of the story before going back to Ibadan.
‘My visit today wasn’t in vain,’ uncle Ade announced the moment I hung up, ‘Dabira, how come you never told me about this your bobo? I’m happy for you.’
‘Happy for me? There’s no string attached between the two of us; Chief Mbadiwe is just a parent of one of my students.’
‘But he called you ‘My Angel’, when I first picked the call. Anyway, you can tell that fable to the birds, i’m taking the juicy news back to Ibadan. Your mother would be very happy to hear this recent development.’
Saturday morning saw me in the church in a bible study session with the youths. The enthusiasm on the faces of the youngsters urged me to dig deeper into the bible. And then at the climax of the study, I observed a divided attention.
‘Open it let’s see it!’ I heard one of the girls beckoning to another girl with an iPad.
‘Be bold my friend!’ a handful of boys turned in the direction of the girl with the iPad.
‘What’s the commotion all about?’ my impatience soared; and still not satisfied I ordered the girl with the iPad on her feet.
‘Can I have that iPad?’
The sixteen-year-old Ada, hesitated, clutching the device tightly.
‘Ada, I don’t want to repeat myself, give me have that iPad immediately!’ I demanded.
‘Aunty…aunty Dabira…I can explain…’
Before Ada could detect my next move, I grabbed the gadget from her.
‘What? Pornography!’ my eyes almost popped out of its sockets as I scrolled through the device.
‘You’re watching pornography in my bible study class?’
‘Shut up!’ I roared like a mad woman, ‘are you not supposed to be the light of the world? Why are you toiling with the powers of darkness?’
‘Aunty Dabira, please listen to me…’
‘I won’t listen to any explanations!’ I roared like a mad woman.
Ada’s several attempts to make me listen to her explanations fell on deaf ears.
An unusual wave of serenity swept through the auditorium. The look of astonishment on the faces of the rest of the youths made me realize I had raised my voice above my normal self.
The next day was my church’s annual thanksgiving service. The series of activities notwithstanding, I noticed Ada was absent from church. The reason I presumed was not far-fetched.
‘That girl sure needs thorough discipline’ I told her friends, who later confirmed my suspicion.
On my way back from church I made an impromptu stop at a shopping mall. And right at the entrance of the busy mall, I spotted Chief Mbadiwe!
Several thoughts ran through my mind as I advanced towards him.
‘Wow, look who we have here!’ he beamed as though he had been expecting to see me all the while.
‘Good afternoon sir,’ I returned the smile.
‘Good afternoon, my Angel. You won’t believe I was just thinking about you, and pronto, here you are!’
‘How is Nkoli?’ I swerved the subject matter towards his daughter.
‘Nkoli has gone to see her cousins…’ he paused, looking at me all over as though I was a merchandise of some sort.
‘Dabbie, you look b-e-a-u-t-i-f-l-e! where are you off to?’
‘I’m on my way home from church.’
‘Hmmh! then I should start attending your church…’
The charisma Chief Mbadiwe exuded as he spoke swept me off my feet. Suddenly my heart started beating out of tune, but I intentionally quelled the riot going on within me with a short bible verse.
‘Hey, what did you just say?’ Chief Mbadiwe noticed my faint utterance.
‘It’s a bible verse,’ I replied casually.
‘Saint Dabira!’ he smiled, ‘please, remember me in your prayers.’
‘I will sir. I’m in a hurry. I hope to see you some other time…’
‘But do me the favour of walking you around the mall while you do your shopping.
Walk me down the mall? Are we a couple? And while I racked my brains for a ready-made excuse to decline his request, Chief Mbadiwe held my arm tenderly into mall. The rich fragrance of his cologne almost choked me as we walked. On noticing the look of unease on my eyes, he smiled.
‘I know you don’t like my closeness,’ he whispered, ‘but please, you just have to fake it for my sake.’
Finally, I was done with my shopping and heaving a sigh of relief when I neared the cashier, but the stare I got from a teenage girl beside the cashier made me uncomfortable. On a closer look, I discovered the teenage girl was Ada!
The expression on Ada’s face spoke volumes.
My mind drifted to the episode which occurred just yesterday at the bible study class when I scolded the poor girl because of the pornography video. Now the almighty Saint Dabira, has a whole lot of explaining to make!
Oblivious of what was going on, Chief Mbadiwe extended his arm over my shoulders.
Oh my God, this soap opera must come to an end! I cried within. And while the battle continued, the shopping mall Supervisor emerged.
‘Ah, chief long time no see!’ the Supervisor exclaimed, ‘how is madam?’
At the word, madam, Ada’s eyes popped out like a frog. I could sense a thousand and one questions barging at her young mind. Could she be thinking I was the Chief’s mistress?
‘Oh, madam is fine,’ Chief Mbadiwe replied indifferently.
‘I guess this must be your latest catch…’ the mall Supervisor turned in my direction.
While the Supervisor and the Chief further conversed, I tactfully excused myself and walked towards Ada and whispered to her.
‘Believe me, Ada, it’s not what you think; I can explain!’
TO BE CONTINUED…